CLLOGOIsraeli champions Maccabi Tel Aviv will have to get past Swiss side Basel if they’re to reach the group stages of this season’s Champions League.

Hoping it will be a case of third time lucky – having played them twice in three years in the third qualifying stags of the competition, losing both ties, defender Tal Ben Haim said: “Every team that gets to this stage is good and nothing will be easy. It’s the third meeting in two years [against Basel] and the previous ones didn’t finish well for us, but we believe this time it is possible. We are as good as them. We will be optimistic and you will see a battling team that knows what it wants.

Basel’s Mark Jancko said: “Tel Aviv it is! For me the strongest team among the possible ones. But as I said, we are @FC_Basel – we’re respecting but we don’t fear anyone.”

The first leg in Switzerland takes place on 18/19 August, with the return in Israel a week later on 25/26 August.

Maccabi will be Israel’s only representative in European competition this season, after Ironi Kiryat Shmona Europa League was ended on Thursday night.

Trailing 2-1 to Czech side Slovan Liberec of the Czech Republic from last week’s first leg of the third qualifying round, they were comprehensively beaten 3-0 in Netanya. Captain David Pavelka put the visitors ahead in the 33rd minute, with additional strikes from Josef Sural and Marek Bakos sealing their fate. Coach Salah Hasarma said: “We didn’t show up and they were the better team and deserved to win. You sometimes experience these types of matches when nothing goes your way.”